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W. N. DOAK, Secretary






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Letter of transmittal------------------------------------------Wliat the Women’s Bureau is and does------------------Distributing facts about women workers---------------Setting up employment standards for women-----------Comparing labor laws for women------------------------Studying lost time and labor fluctuation---------------Improving hours, wages, and working conditions------Building the steps to industrial health and safety---Opening the doors of opportunity to women-------------Becognizing the woman worker’s family responsibility.





United States Department of Labor,
Women’s Bureau,

Washington, December 9, 1930.
Sir : I have the honor to submit herewith a collection of articles
on the activities and findings of this bureau to which has been given
the title “ Fact Finding with the Women’s Bureau.”
There is considerable demand for informative material of a char­
acter somewhat more instructive and up to date than the bureau’s
“ Radio Talks ” and “ Short Talks,” and I believe that the inclusion
between covers of the articles here assembled is in the interest of
Various members of the bureau’s staff have prepared the text
matter of this bulletin. The drawings were made from sketches by
Carrie Ivie, of the division of public information.
Respectfully submitted.
Mary Anderson, Director.
Hon. W. N. Doak,
Secretary of Labor.


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The work of women has been necessary to the human race in meet­
ing the elemental needs of shelter, food, and clothing since the begin­
ning of time. The development of the factory system caused much
of the work done in the home to be taken over by establishments
organized for the purpose, and from small neighborhood groups
these establishments have evolved to the industrial system as it exists
When women followed the industries out of the home and into
the factory, the real, change for them was not the work itself but
the way in which the work was done and the change from an
unpaid to a paid occupation. Women were transformed from bread­
winners taken for granted within the home to paid breadwinners
outside the home.
In the United States there has been for well over a century a large
and important class of employed women, and to these have been
added within comparatively recent years considerable numbers of
women from families in which the earnings of father or husband
could not keep pace with the rise in the cost of living, and consider­
able numbers of women who have felt, in this age of changed rela­
tions. between the sexes and the broadening of narrow convention,
the right and the need of independent careers.
This evolution has not meant that woman has changed physically.
It is still true that for the future of the race, if not for the sake of
the existing generation itself, women must be guarded against over­
strain, whether acute or of slow development, and exploitation by
the unfair employer who is willing to wear out, instead of to conserve,
his labor supply. Because women are in a weaker position eco­
nomically than are men, being unable to dictate the terms of their
employment, and because they still must carry on the maintenance
of the home and the care of children, there is in all civilized coun­
tries a constant effort to raise the standards of their employment,
whether the women themselves take action or not.




As Federal and other censuses in the United States made appar­
ent the rapid increase in the number of women in industrial pursuits,
it seemed imperative that the problems of these women should become
the concern of the National Government. A wide investigation of
the employment conditions of women and children in 1907-1909,
the findings of which were published in 19 volumes,1 was followed by
an insistent demand for a Government bureau whose concern should
be the problems of the working woman. However, though organi­
zations and individuals of the highest character were active in this
agitation, little was achieved until the United States entered the
World War and there was an increased necessity for the recruiting
of labor. Then it was realized that the adjustment of large numbers
of women to unaccustomed tasks and their social adjustment in the
home and in the community would be a difficult matter. To avoid
disaster, women’s work in familiar occupations was to be made more
healthful and more productive and their work in new occupations
was to be established on the right basis; standards were not to be
lowered, even in the emergency of war.
An agency called the Woman in Industry Service accordingly
was one of several war services created in the Department of Labor
in 1918. Miss Mary van Kleeck, head of the department of indus­
trial studies of the Russell Sage Foundation, was chosen to direct
the work, and Miss Mary Anderson, field organizer for the National
Women’s Trade Union League, was appointed assistant director.
During the short war existence of the Woman in Industry Service
its most important achievement was the formulating of standards
to govern the employment of women. (See pp. 9-11.)
The coming of peace showed no decline in the need for a clear
policy and definite information about the conditions under which
women should be employed, so the Woman in Industry Service was
continued through 1919, its title being changed to Women’s Bureau,
and in June, 1920, it was made permanent by act of Congress. Upon
the resignation of Miss van Kleeck in 1919, Miss Anderson was
appointed director and she has been reappointed by each succeeding
Cooperation with State departments of labor always has consti­
tuted an important feature in the bureau’s activities. In many
instances the States are not equipped for work that the bureau’s
authority and experience enable it to accomplish, and in turn the
States can be of the greatest assistance in various bureau projects.
Under the United States form of government, each State makes
its own laws—in some cases the best and the most backward legisla­
tion is found in adjoining States—and the Federal Government,
better than any one State, is in a position to gather comparable
material from the different sections of the country and make it
available to all. Its action necessa ’’1 ' 1
lirect than that of the
States, but it is broad in scope
d has the prestige of national
In harmony with the policy of the Government, the Women’s
Bureau has no mandatory powers nor any laws to administer. How­
ever, its declarations of standards and policies have the force always
inherent in facts scientifically secured and presented. The director
1 IT. S. Bureau of Labor. Report on Condition of Woman and Child Wage Earners in the
United States. U. S. Government Printing Office, Washington. 1912.



and assistant director are much in demand for addresses and con­
ferences; numerous requests for data on the subject of working
women, for educational or legislative purposes, and for assistance of
various sorts, are complied with; the reports that publish the find­
ings of surveys have an extensive mailing list, including libraries
and universities; and its department of public information prepares
articles about the work of the bureau, its standards for women’s em­
ployment, and the findings of its surveys, and lends to organizations
in various parts of the world and displays at important expositions
exhibit material illustrative of the bureau’s work and the high
lights of women’s employment.
An important service rendered by the bureau in 1923 and 192G
was its industrial conferences, at which the conditions that affect
women, from the point of view of the employer, the consumer, the
woman worker, the trade-union, the economist, the church, the phy­
sician, the Government, and the general public, were discussed under
expert leadership.
In addition to reports of wages, hours, and working conditions in
20 States and a number of specific industries, the bureau publica­
tions include studies of occupational distribution, accidents, fluctua­
tion in employment, family responsibilities, legislation, and a variety
of other subjects—a total of eighty-odd bulletins and more than 7,100
pages in 12 years. (See list of publications at end of this bulletin.)
In all the undertakes the bureau has the courteous coop­
eration of employers, workers, State officials, and other agencies in
possession of information essential to the surveys.
No State survey is undertaken except by invitation of the State
authorities. On receipt of such invitation, if time and money per­
mit, agents are sent into the State to visit a representative number
of factories, stores, laundries, and other establishments employing
women, and to interview working women themselves. Permission to
copy pay rolls is given by the employers, who assist in the selection
of a representative week in which neither undertime nor overtime
has occurred in excess. In some cases the corresponding pay roll
for the year before is asked for, to show changes in employment and
earnings, and generally the year’s earnings are taken off for a selected
group of steady workers who have been a year or more with the firm
and have worked at least 44 weeks.
While the agents of the bureau are copying the pay-roll figures,
cards are distributed among the women then at work in the estab­
lishment on which the women record name, occupation, experience,
age, nativity, whether living at home or boarding, marital condition,
and so forth.
_ The agents also inspect the place of work, noting ventilation, light­
ing, cleanliness and order, safety, seating arrangements, drinking
water, washing facilities, toilet facilities, rest rooms, cloak rooms, and
lunch rooms, and other service of this character.
In connection with the survey of the establishments, the agents
visit a number of women in their homes to learn their environment
and home responsibilities. Further inquiries are made of the State
department of labor, the Young Women’s Christian Association, and
other local organizations familiar with industrial and social
27606°—31---- 2



All the infoimation thus secured—working-condition schedules,
pay-roll cards, 52-week earnings, personal-information cards, and
home-visit schedules—is sent to the office in Washington, where it
is edited and tabulated—for example, earnings correlated with age,
with experience, with hours, etc.—according to industry. The tables
later are analyzed by trained economists and the final report is sub­
mitted to the Secretary of Labor for approval and publication.
As constituted at present (autumn of 1930) the bureau has a staff
of 50 persons, comprising administrative and clerical, field investi­
gation, research, statistical, public information, and editorial. All
its employees but the director are under civil service and have been
appointed after competitive examination.
The purpose of the Department of Labor itself, as stated in the
organic act, is “ to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the
wage earners of the United States, to improve their working condi­
tions, and to advance their opportunities for profitable employment.”
Under the department the Women’s Bureau is charged with the for­
mulation of “ standards and policies which shall promote the welfare
of wage-earning women, improve their working conditions, increase
their efficiency, and advance their opportunities for profitable
The Bureau of the Census has estimated from its 1930 returns that
the number of employed women in the United States is about
10,000,000. With the number of women workers constantly grow­
ing, with the striking increase of married-women wage earners, with
the share of women in family support and economic responsibility
assuming greater proportions, with acute problems of employment
and unemployment piling up as a result of the present machine age,
and with the development of more industries and new processes
giving rise to new hazards and additional strain for women workers,
the task of the Women’s Bureau each year becomes more extensive
and complicated. It is the purpose of the bureau to collect, cor­
relate, and make available for reference a mass of information that
shall be accepted by employers, employees, health authorities,
women’s organizations—in fact, all interested persons—in their
combined efforts to have the working conditions and employment
relations of American women the best in the world.



The magnitude and complexity of the task with which the Women’s
Bureau is charged are apparent from the fact that when the census
of 1920 was taken there were in the United States over 8,500,000
wage-earning women, represented in all but 35 of the 572 occupations
listed. According to preliminary estimates of the census of 1930,
made public by the Director of the Census, this number has in­
creased to about 10,000,000.
This vast array of working women, old and young, white and
negro, native and foreign born, single and married, who in so many
instances are home makers and mothers as well as wage earners,
creates by its variety of elements many diversified problems. The
great number of occupations in which they are found, the many
types of employers, the variations in State labor laws for women,
and the wide range of standards of work in places of employment
all add to the complexity of the situation and, in consequence, the
complexity of the work of the Women’s Bureau.
In general there are two chief divisions to the activities of the
bureau—fact finding and fact furnishing. On the one hand, it
must make scientific studies and technical investigations, so as to
obtain first-hand information concerning wage-earning women; on
the other, it must arrange, analyze, and publish the material collected
for the purpose of informing, interesting, and stimulating the
public, especially those forces directly concerned with the employ­
ment of women, to effect better working conditions.
The Women’s Bureau has no mandatory powers, nor has it any
laws to administer. It is, nevertheless, extremely helpful in raising



standards and in serving as a clearing house of information on mat­
ters related to the employment of women for departments of labor
and other agencies responsible for State standards and the enforce­
ment of labor laws. The bureau’s Standards for the Employment
of Women in Industry (see p. 10), based on the practices of the
most advanced employers and first issued in 1918, remains the
criterion of industrial conditions for women.
Every movement making for reform needs a reservoir of reliable
data upon which to draw and by which to be guided. The Women’s
Bureau serves in the capacity of such a reservoir, with a number of
channels furnishing a steady supply of facts scientifically gathered,
tabulated, and analyzed. As a Government agency it has the weight
of authority. As an organization unrelated in any personal sense
to the industrial and business world, it has the impartiality of a
court of justice. As a group of economists, trained, experienced, and
deeply interested in women’s employment, it has the solidarity of a
scientific foundation.
The collection and dissemination of authentic data on women
workers are particularly important in a society where ignorance, prej­
udice, and wrong conclusions tend to cause unjust discrimination
against women and to work undue hardship. Women have never
been in so sound an economic position as that of men, chiefly because
of their more recent entrance into the wage-earning arena and the
widespread but erroneous belief that women as a class are only
temporarily in gainful occupation and are not responsible for the
support of dependents.
In reality, the number and proportion of women wage earners has
increased steadily with each decennial census.2 Women in the
capacity of paid workers are a permanent and indispensable factor
in the multitudinous activities of agriculture, industry, business, and
the professions. As civilization is organized to-day, women need
remunerative jobs to be assured of a livelihood, in many cases for
the support of others, and these jobs need the work of women
for their economic progress.
Because women are producers not only of material goods but of
future citizens, because they are and must continue to be the mothers
and home makers of the race, if it is to be perpetuated, it is imper­
ative to study their problems in respect to wage-earning activities.
The welfare of women, not only as individuals but in relation to
their importance to the race, requires constant attention. Their
safety, like that of men, should be of concern to society as a whole.
Because of their important social and economic aspects, the
problems of women workers are recognized by many different
groups—by industrialists, business men, and employers, from the
point of view of dollars and cents and efficient production; by
sociologists, psychologists, educators, physicians, and scientists con­
cerned with human welfare, conduct, and relations; by forward­
looking women interested in the advancement of their sex; and by
labor groups striving to gain a firmer and higher foothold on the
ladder of industrial progress.
2 It is true that the proportion showed a decline between the census of 1910 and that of
1920, but this was due to tlie change in census date and other differences and did not
represent actual conditions.



With a clientele characterized by interests of such wide range, the
Women’s Bureau must be prepared to furnish material on a variety
of subjects, to be scrutinized from a number of points of view.
Records of many kinds gathered by bureau investigators on special
schedules are kept in the files in their original form for reference.
Such information is confidential, particularly that obtained from
individual employers, and it is never given out for public use. The
collective’ facts and figures obtained in this way, however, are tabu­
lated, analyzed, written up in report form, and published.
The reports are circulated widely, to a mailing list kept strictly
up to date and consisting only of names of persons and organizations
that have requested that they be sent all publications issued by the
bureau. Research foundations, economists, professors, students,
schools, universities, libraries, employers, employers’ associations,
labor organizations, industrial specialists, women’s organizations,
periodicals, newspapers, free-lance writers, and State departments
make up this list and give it a varied complexion. On the list is
represented every State in the Union as well as all its foreign pos­
sessions and 88 other countries.
Another means of disseminating information is the News Letter.
This publication, inaugurated in 1921 at the request of the Associa­
tion of Governmental Labor Officials, reports current activities re­
lating to working women in the United States and other countries
and serves as a special clearing house of such information.
The activities of the Women’s Bureau in broadcasting its material
do not stop with its published bulletins. Since the material these
contain is largely of a scientific, technical, and statistical nature,
it must be translated into popular form, with emphasis on its human
interest, in order to make an appeal to the general public.
Such popularization of facts and figures constitutes the special
task of the division of public information in the bureau. News
releases on bulletins and outstanding activities are constantly be­
ing sent out, usually to a mailing list of 2,900 editors and correspond­
ents. Many special articles, both of a popular and of a technical
nature, are prepared and submitted to varied types of periodicals
and organizations, in the most instances upon request and for a
particular need. These articles also are kept on file and they con­
stitute a storehouse of information that can be drawn on again and
again in response to requests for information on various topics
related to wage-earning women.
The preparation and circulation of popular exhibits, such as
models, motion pictures, maps, charts, posters, and folders, form an
important feature in the bureau’s program. Charts, posters, and
maps, like the bulletins, are distributed without charge until the
bureau’s supply is exhausted. The cost of transporting the heavier
exhibit material is met by the organizations that borrow it. All
exhibit material is used extensively by schools, colleges, churches,
employers’ associations, and labor, industrial, and women’s organi­
zations. In the 12 years since the inauguration of this Government
service for working women, exhibit material of one sort or another
has been sent into all of the 48 States, Panama, Cuba, Porto Rico,
Hawaii, and many foreign countries.



Addresses by the director and members of her staff, participation
in conferences and conventions, a ready response to requests for
advice or other assistance, and the preparation of exhibits for
national and international expositions are other means by which the
bureau endeavors to educate the public in regard to important facts
about women workers.
It can readily be seen what value inheres in the bureau’s studies,
dispassionately and scientifically made. To the employer who
analyzes their findings and profits by their suggestions the results
spell better plants, improved production, and a more contented work
force. To the working woman such investigations assure greater
consideration of her needs and increased recognition of her ability
with consequent rewards in the way of opportunity and advance­
ment. To society these efforts in the interests of women workers
promise better relations between capital and labor and guarantee
to the race a richer heritage of health, happiness, and efficiency.


The fact that women have been in a weaker position economically
than have men necessitates greater consideration and control of the
conditions of their employment, to conserve alike their industrial
efficiency and their health and to make it impossible for selfish inter­
ests to exploit them as unwilling competitors in lowering those
standards of hours, wages, working conditions, and industrial rela­
tions that are for the best interests of the workers, industry, and
society as a whole.
After the creation of the Woman in Industry Service as a war
measure in July, 1918, already described, the service lost no time in
adopting a program, and the first sentence of such program was
this: “Standards governing the employment of women in industry
should be authoritatively issued * *
The standards drawn up by the Woman in Industry Service in
pursuance of this program were deliberated upon with such care
that after 12 years they remain the criteria of conditions of women’s
employment in the United States. Circulated in small pamphlet
form, they are like chart and compass, directing not only the bureau’s
own activities in regard to all studies and investigations but serving
as a guide to other forces interested in promoting the welfare of
wage-earning women.
The first draft of the standards, based on State labor laws and
on war regulations, was submitted for criticism and suggestion to
every State department of labor, to representative employers, and to
working women in a position to speak for national and international




trade-unions. Indorsed by the War Labor Policies Board, and
revised in some respects to meet peace conditions, in their final form
the standards were issued in December, 1918.
When the service was made a permanent bureau in 1920, the im­
portance of formulating standards and policies was recognized by
the Congress, and it was one of the chief duties charged to the
new bureau in the creative act.
Summarized for inclusion here, the bureau’s standards for the
employment of women are as follows:
An adequate wage, based on occupation and not on sex and covering the
cost of living of dependents; time for recreation, self-development, leisure, by
a workday of week; no night hours, including rest periods; not
days off in thenot more than 8 work; no industrial home work. less than 1 y2
A clean, well-aired, well-lighted workroom, with adequate provision against
excessive heat and cold; a chair for each woman, built on posture lines and
adjusted to both worker and job; elimination of constant standing and constant
Guarded machinery and other safety precautions; mechanical devices for
the lifting of heavy weights and other operations abnormally fatiguing; pro­
tection against industrial poisons, dust, and fumes; first-aid equipment; no
prohibition of women’s employment, except in industries definitely proved by
scientific investigation to be more injurious to women than to men.
Adequate and sanitary service facilities as follows: Pure and accessible
drinking water, with individual cups or sanitary fountains; convenient wash­
ing facilities, with hot and cold water, soap, and individual towels; standard
toilet facilities, in the ratio of 1 installation for every 15 women; cloak rooms;
rest rooms; lunch rooms, and the allowance of sufficient time for lunch.
A personnel department charged with responsibility for the selection, assign­
ment, transfer, or withdrawal of workers and for the establishment of proper
working conditions; a woman employment executive and women in super­
visory positions in the departments employing women; employees to share in
the control of the conditions of employment by means of chosen representa­
tives, some of them women; cooperation with Federal and State agencies
dealing with labor and employment conditions; the opportunity for women
workers to choose the occupations for which they are best adapted as a means
of insuring success in their work.

It must be apparent that these standards are far from radical.
They are not new and untried theories, as many employers of women
had adopted such measures, more or less, long before the Women’s
Bureau came into existence. But they should be guaranteed to all
wage-earning women and not only those so fortunate as to be in the
employ of the most forward-looking managements, and as there are
tens of thousands of women still employed at seriously low wage
rates, at unduly long hour schedules, and in working environments
detrimental to health and happiness, the Women’s Bureau feels the
necessity of constantly stressing in a number of ways the standards
that it advocates. Like a theme running through practically all its
publications is constant reference to one or more of these formu­
lated safeguards for women. In bulletins and news releases, ad­
dresses, conferences, correspondence, and exhibit material they are
presented over and over again. By means of models, posters, maps,
charts, and motion pictures their lesson is taught graphically to
that considerable part of the public that prefers educational meth­
ods that are entertaining.
Detailed study of certain of its standards has been possible for
the bureau. Its bulletins on the sanitary provision of drinking
water, on toilet facilities, on lighting, on seating, summarize the



various State laws on these subjects and offer certain standards that
have been approved by committees of experts.
In many bureau reports much enlightening discussion is given to
the need of high standards of employment, to the good results for
women and the race when such measures prevail, or to the detri­
mental effects on the workers, on the communities, and even on in­
dustry when employers, through indifference or lack of knowledge,
do not follow the path of progress in respect to women’s employment.
In general, the Women’s Bureau believes that a working environ­
ment for women established on the corner stones of health, safety,
opportunity, and equity forms a strong foundation for a superstruc­
ture of efficiency.
27006°—31---- 3

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An important part of the discovery and presentation of facts that
aflect the employment of women lies in ascertaining the standards
set by the various States in the form of statutes relating to this
subject. Consequently the Women’s Bureau has made, in addition
to other types of reports, several studies of special labor legislation
for women.
In the past few decades such legislation has become a subject of
increasing importance in the United States, and one with many
ramifications, due to the various types of labor laws and to the
numerous problems involved. Among the aspects inherent in the
subject are these: The vast number of women gainfully employed;
the great variety of their occupations; the conditions under which
they work, varying with locality, industry, and establishment; the
changes and developments in their opportunities that have been coin­
cident with the enactment of the different kinds of legislation, apply­
ing here to one group of women and there to another; the almost
infinite range of the possible effects of such legislation—effects that
may be similar to those due to other influences.
In general, special labor laws for women deal chiefly with hours
of work, night work, seating, a minimum wage, and the regulation—
in some cases the prohibition—of women’s work in certain occupa­
tions or industries. Home work is an additional subject of legisla­
tion that affects great numbers of women, since they form the great
majority of home workers. The laws on each of the several topics
differ widely in content, requirement, application, and effect.
At an early period in its history the bureau prepared brief sum­
maries of the legislation then in effect in the various States in rela­
tion to hours, night work, industrial home work, and a minimum
wage. Each of these subjects has been developed more fully in later
reports. In 1924 and again in 1927 careful compilations were made
of the laws on the statute books relating to working women.
To keep such information up to date, in the possibility of change
in the laws from year to year, constant attention must be given to



the question of labor legislation in each of the 48 States. Radical
departure from the existing order comes but seldom and in only a
few States, here and there, but slight modification of a statute is
not uncommon. Through its research division the bureau makes a
close study of the activities of legislatures in regard to all bills of
the nature of labor regulation affecting women and to any new enact­
ment or any modification of such laws. Through its periodical News
Letter it reports on current activities along these lines, and through
its division of public information it is constantly distributing free,
upon request, colored wall maps showing the laws in the various
States restricting daily hours, weekly hours, and night work for
women. Each year the annual report of the bureau contains a
resume of legislative changes within the past 12 months.
A recent report of the bureau gives a comprehensive chronological
digest, by State, of all labor laws that have affected women except
those dealing with a minimum wage, these having been studied
separately in a report that constitutes the most complete analysis
of minimum wage laws that has been made. The chronological
digest includes all statutes from the first hour law in the country,
enacted in 1847 in New Hampshire and applying to both sexes, to
legislation that went into effect in 1928, and it gives, in addition, all
orders of industrial welfare commissions or boards that have had
the force of law.
The most outstanding achievements in the struggle for labor
legislation for women shown in the study are the 8-hour laws in 10
States and the District of Columbia and the 8^-hour laws in 2
States. The 17 additional States with 9-hour laws, 18 with 10-hour
laws, and 5 with 101.4, 101/t, 11, and 12 hour laws gives a total—al­
lowing for the States that fall into more than one class—of 43
States that can point to some regulation of the hours of their women
Only 16 States have passed any laws prohibiting night work for
women. Twenty States and the District of Columbia have no laws
regulating or prohibiting their employment in any specific occu­
pation, even mining.
Such a summary is of especial interest at this time when modern
science is stressing the importance of short hours and good working
conditions as a means of decreasing the industrial waste arising from
fatigue and of contributing to social efficiency.
The bureau has not stopped with the compilation of basic collec­
tions of laws but has undertaken certain important and far-reaching
studies of the way labor laws work in practice. One of these deals
with a matter that had been considerably debated and upon which
accurate data had not been available until compiled by the Women’s
Bureau; namely, the effects of labor legislation on the employment
opportunities of women.
This study is based on a survey of five important woman-employ­
ing industries—boots and shoes, clothing, hosiery, paper boxes, and
electrical apparatus and supplies—and it includes also stores, res­
taurants, and certain specific occupations in which the employment
of women is more recent. The establishments visited were in nine
States and numbered 1,661, and they employed 500,223 men and
165,244 women. Over 1,200 working women were interviewed per­



sonally, and the testimony of many employers was taken. The study
gave conclusive proof that, in general, regulatory hour laws do not
handicap women engaged in manufacturing processes. In a few
special groups laws have resulted in occasional discrimination, but
in such cases it is possible to adapt the legislation more specifically
to the needs of the women in the particular occupations in question.
The second report dealing with the practical working of labor
laws considers the effects of minimum-wage laws in the States in
which they have been enacted, the methods of their operation, costs
of administration, and changes in the position of women workers
brought about by such statutes. The findings of the study show that
the purpose of these laws—to benefit the most poorly paid workers—
has been accomplished where they have been in force. While these
laws have no magic to increase all rates, where such a law has been
most effective the typical woman worker is in a decidedly better
financial position to-day than before minimum-wage rates were set.
Another bureau study in which legislation has an important place
deals with the employment of women at night. This sets forth the
evil effects of such employment, describes the United States and
foreign experiences, and gives a digest of legislation regulating night
work in the United States and in the principal foreign countries.
In connection with its chronological list of labor laws in all States,
the bureau has made a study of the complete history of labor legis­
lation for women in three large industrial States—New York, Mass­
achusetts, and California. The object was to show how and with
whom such legislation originated, the purpose it was intended to
serve, its supporters and opponents, and its legislative history. It
was found that the chief factors that had furthered the passage
of these statutes—their influence varying widely in degree in dif­
ferent States—were as follows: Organized labor; factory inspectors
and other officials charged with enforcement; bureaus of labor sta­
tistics; special legislative committees or commissions for the study of
labor conditions; governors; pioneering employers; social, civic,
philanthropic, and church groups; factual studies of conditions
to be remedied by law; and finally, the spirit of the time.

M J 4\

Among the publications issued by the Women’s Bureau are sev­
eral bulletins that deal with the subjects of lost time, labor turn­
over, and fluctuation in employment. At a glance the first and sec­
ond of these terms may appear academic and technical and without
direct application to the working women whose welfare is the bureau’s
particular care, but even a cursory examination of the contents of the
bulletins discloses that the subjects of lost time and labor turnover
are of interest not alone to the economist but to the workers them­
selves and most of all to the employer, especially the employer of
the modern, alert type. Three bulletins relate to the textile in­
dustry; another, Changing Jobs, is a brief discussion of the varied
industrial experiences of a group of young women; and the remain­
ing two are notable studies of the instability of employment.
Naturally, in any industry functioning under normal conditions
there is a certain amount of labor turnover that is unavoidable and
even desirable and that must be considered in the estimated cost of
the business from year to year. Most employers realize the advan­
tage in having a stable force of workers on the job day after day,
month after month, throughout the year. But in many plants an
overlarge proportion of workers quit their jobs after a short term of
employment, thus necessitating the hiring of others, during which
process a loss in production and a subsequent loss of profit for the
employer are likely to result. For the worker, such change may mean
reduced income and a lowered morale while seeking a new job and
learning a new process. Employers recognize that this constant los­
ing and hiring of workers is an indication of inefficiency, but com­
paratively few of them take the time or trouble to look for remedies,
though in most cases these are obvious and easily applied.
Absenteeism on the part of employees is another problem with
which plant managements have to reckon and which, if existing to
any great extent in an industrial establishment, undermines efficient
production. Plant conditions are likely to be responsible for an
excessive amount of lost time on the part of the workers, and a
change of policies and a raising of employment standards may
eliminate the difficulty.
In the study Lost Time and Labor Turnover in Cotton Mills an
effort was made to ascertain the cause and extent of such conditions



among the women employees of 18 cotton mills, 9 in the South and
9 in the North. Records on absenteeism and turnover were taken
for 4,338 women and 6,203 men, and 2,214 of the women visited in
their homes reported the causes of their absences and separations.
The men were not interviewed. The mills covered in the study were
representative of the industry. Sixteen were manufacturers of the
coarser grades of cloth, such as print goods, sheeting, and drills,
and two made fine goods. They typified all variety of mill com­
munity life, as some were in isolated towns and large textile centers
and others were in the country and surrounded only by the village
where the workers lived.
The extent of the turnover in a plant is an index of the amount
of restlessness in the force, as the majority of the separations are
not discharges. The turnover rate for all mills combined was prac­
tically the same for men and women, 142.1 per cent and 142.5 per
cent, respectively. The results for the different mills and the two
sections of the country set forth many interesting facts. The rate
for all workers varied widely, ranging from 41 per cent in one mill
to 877.3 per cent in another. The majority, however, had a rate
of between 125 and 300 per cent. From the standpoint of depart­
ments, in all mills the spin room showed a very high turnover for
men and women combined, the women leading with a rate of 165.5
per cent and the men revealing a rate considerably lower, or 134.4
per cent. In this department southern mills reported a higher rate
than did northern mills for both men and women.
In studying the causes of separations it was noted that many more
women in the northern than in the southern mills quit their jobs
because of home duties, insufficient earnings, or slack work, while
the separations due to discontent with conditions of work caused
more shifting in the South than in the North. This may be due in
part to the longer hours prevailing in the South, as it was found
that ordinarily a high rate of turnover accompanied the longer work
week. Mills with a 55-hour week had nearly twice as high a turn­
over rate among women as had the mills working 48 hours, and
most southern mills work the longer hours. The fact was noted
also that more operatives in the South than in the North left to try
other jobs and gave the general reason of “ just moving ” as a
cause for leaving, emphasizing again the greater restlessness of the
workers in the southern than in the northern mills. As causes of
turnover for men were not ascertained, comparison by sex could
not be made.
Lost time as recorded in the 18 mills also showed much variation
in amount between the northern and southern parts of the country,
during the different seasons of the year, and even among the various
departments of the same establishment. Of all the workers studied
in mills, North and South, the women lost more time than did men
in both sections of the country. In the northern mills women lost
16.4 per cent of their possible working time and in the southern
mills 27.4 per cent. In the North the men were absent for 10.7 per
cent of their time, in contrast to 20.7 per cent in the South. Com­
parison of all mills by season of the year revealed the largest num­
ber of absences as occurring during the warmer weather, and August
as the month with the highest record. The percentage was slightly



higher in the North at this peak season, probably because long, hot
summers were expected in the warmer climate and more effort was
made in the South than in the North to keep the mills cool and
properly ventilated during hot weather. Illness of self exacted the
greatest toll of absence, as 23.2 per cent of the days lost by all
women were attributed to this cause, home duties coming next with
a total of 19.8 per cent of the days out.
In comparing the various departments of the mills it was found
that in the spin rooms the proportion of time lost was higher than
in the other departments and the turnover rate was next to the
highest. As no definite reason could be given for this condition,
a later study, Conditions of Work in Spin Rooms, was made by
the bureau for the purpose of measuring how far certain definite
changes in conditions might affect the absence and turnover rates.
The first part of this report was compiled from records taken from
four mills into which a new method of operation had been intro­
duced, commonly known as the “ stretch-out system.” At the time
the records were taken, three of the mills still were operating one or
more spin rooms by the old method. The fourth furnished records
for an early summer and a winter period both before and after the
new method had been introduced. In general it may be said that
the new method in the spin room slightly increased the turnover
but tended to lessen the time lost.
For the second part of the spin-room study, temperature readings
were obtained from 15 mills—7 in the North and 8 in the South.
In most of the mills these were recorded by the management two to
four times a day over a period of a year. No attempt was made to
correlate the temperature readings with figures on lost time and
labor turnover.
As the causes of absence for men had not been studied in the earlier
bulletins, it was thought that it would prove valuable to make such
a comparison by sex. Accordingly, a small bulletin, Causes of Ab­
sence for Men and for Women in Four Cotton Mills, was prepared.
Incidentally, this is the only report published by the Women’s Bu­
reau in which conditions of employment for men workers are dis­
cussed. The figures show that with men as with women the principal
cause of lost time was the illness of the worker. The number of
days lost through illness was greater for women than for men. Very
little of the lost time in any of the mills was due to accidents, but
men lost more time through this cause than did women. Lack of
work, home duties, and personal reasons are other causes of lost time
discussed from the viewpoint of both men and women.
Another bulletin referred to, Changing Jobs, presents a picture of
some of the effects on the worker of the modernizing of industry. It
comprises a brief survey, made under the direction of Prof. Amy
Hewes, of the combined industrial experiences of 97 women as­
sembled as students of economics at the summer school for women
workers in industry at Bryn Mawr College in 1925. The group
studied, while small, was widely representative, as the students came
directly from jobs in 18 different States and represented more than
10 industries in which women are employed to-day. The facts con­
tained in this report present the problem of labor turnover from a
different angle, and may be an indication that other methods of em­



ployment management and industrial relations must be worked out
in the future. Workers no longer may look forward to an industrial
life devoted to one trade. With the mechanization of industry,
processes have been divided until in some cases work has become so
monotonous that for an employee to retain the same job overlong
may be a detriment instead of an advantage. A study of women
thrown out of their employment in the cigar industry by the in­
creased use of machines emphasizes the condition just referred to.
Expert cigar makers in many cases found nothing they could do.
“ Too old ” (at 35 or 40) for various lines of work that still offered
employment, they had failed to reestablish themselves and serious
unemployment was the result. Men as well as women were affected
by this condition.
An important bulletin, Variations in Employment Trends of
Women and Men, issued primarily to throw light on the question
whether employment figures should be reported by sex, shows for
the 11-year period 1914 to 1924 the ups and downs in employment for
women and for men in the 54 industrial or occupational classes into
which Ohio’s employed population is divided.
Another study, Fluctuation of Employment in the Radio Industry,
is a comprehensive survey of a manufacture that has developed
phenomenally within the past decade and that is notorious for the
irregularity of its employment. Figures for a plant that has made
an effort to improve conditions by combining with the manufacture
of radio sets another product, also somewhat seasonal in character
but having peak production that dovetails with the decline in radio,
show how worth while such an effort may be.




Aw S



In the list of publications of the Women’s Bureau the terms
“ hours,” “ wages,” and “ working conditions ” appear with striking
frequency. Of the 80-odd bulletins prepared and issued by the
bureau during its 12 years of service to the country, each bearing
upon some phase of women’s employment, 34 are reports of investi­
gations along the line of one or more of these subjects.
Of these 34 reports, that cover approximately 4,700 plants and
more than 325,000 women, 20 are of State-wide surveys, the States
being as follows: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia,
Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi,
Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Caro­
lina, Tennessee, and Virginia. Because few States are equipped
with the means of investigating the conditions of their women
workers, the Women’s Bureau has considered these surveys—made
only at the request of the States themselves—a necessary part of its
In any discussion of hours, wages, and working conditions, sub­
jects so vital to the wage earners of the land, that of hours naturally
assumes first place, since the time the worker devotes daily to the
task of earning a living has its effect on every other activity of his




life. In many communities a large part of the population is em­
ployed in shops and factories; and if in such industrial centers the
hours are overlong, the effect will be deleterious to the home life of
the workers, to the community, and, if the practice becomes too
widespread, to the country also. Workers fatigued from too many
1 lours of labor have no strength nor energy left for attention to
their families, for self-improvement, for the duties of citizenship,
nor even for the wholesome recreation that is so necessary if the
health and morale of the workers are to be maintained.
Of almost equal importance in the effect upon the lives of the
workers is another vital subject—wages. To the worker, wages spell
life. The pay envelope must provide food, shelter, clothing—all the
necessities of life and all tire so-called comforts and luxuries. The
amount a worker should receive in order to accomplish this has long
been a cause of controversy; but even allowing for differences in
standards of living, price levels of various commodities, preferences
of the individual, and other factors peculiar to the locality or section
of the country under consideration, it appears to be generally con­
ceded that the worker should be enabled to earn an amount that will
keep him and those immediately dependent upon him in a reasonable
degree of comfort and will allow him to lay something by for his old
age and as insurance against sickness and the periods of unemploy­
ment that in most lines of industry seem as yet to be unavoidable.
It should be recognized also that the physical condition of the shop
or factory in which the employee spends his working hours has def­
inite effects for good or evil upon the lives of the worker and his
family. Underlying the promotion of good working conditions is
the same fundamental reason that argues for a workday of reason­
able length—that the good health and unimpaired morale of the
working population are national assets that should be conserved and
developed. For this reason, any careful analysis of the position and
outlook of wage-earning groups should rightly include that of work­
ing conditions. It should be apparent to all that ill-kept, poorly
lighted, and improperly ventilated workrooms and inadequate or un­
satisfactory sanitary facilities are likely to create discontent in the
minds of the workers with a corresponding lessening of efficiency; or,
worse still, to exact a toll in terms of health and energy that spells
loss of time and money for the wage earner and for the employer.
If number of hours, amount of wages, and conditions of surround­
ings are important to all workers, the Women’s Bureau of the United
States Department of Labor considers them of greatest importance
to the women workers of the country, whose welfare is its particular
In the group of reports bearing on the subjects of hours, wages, and
working conditions, the bureau has confined its studies chiefly to
the problems of such women as are employed in industrial lines in
factories, stores, laundries, restaurants, and telephone exchanges.
The information in its 20 State surveys was secured by the sampling
process, the aim being not to study every plant but to visit a number
in each industry in various localities, representing a cross section of
industry in the State. By means of this method it was found that the
hours worked by the 28i,491 women for whom hours were reported
in such surveys covered the entire range from the accepted standard



of modern labor, 8 hours or less a day and 48 hours or less a week,
to the extremely long hours of 10 or more a day and 70 or more a
week. The best record for shorter weekly hours was that of Illinois,
as 62 per cent of the women included in the survey of that State
were scheduled for 48 hours or under. Maryland stood first as
regards daily hours, as 31.9 per cent of the women included were
reported as having a scheduled workday of 8 hours or less. The
record for the longest hours was that of South Carolina, with 85.4
per cent of the women surveyed working 10 hours or more a day and
88.5 per cent 54 hours or more a week.
From a special compilation of hours for all the States for which
they were reported in bureau surveys, it is apparent that almost half
of the women (48.7 per cent) had a scheduled week of 48 to 50
A study of hours and production is an important part of the work
of the bureau. The object of the study is to show the relation of
hours—long or short—to piecework production, giving special em­
phasis to the effect on output of an increase or decrease in daily
hours. Only such plants are included as have made a change in
scheduled hours during the year, manufactured an identical prod­
uct under different hour schedules, or had periods of overtime of
six weeks or more. Conditions of work in clerical occupations also
are a subject of study.
That low wages usually accompany long hours has been proved by
figures on wages gathered by the Women’s Bureau during its State
surveys. The lowest median wage 3 was found to obtain in Missis­
sippi, where 85.1 per cent of the women in the factories, stores, and
laundries included were reported to be working 54 hours or more
a week. The highest median wage was revealed for Rhode Island,
where only 6.5 per cent of the women worked such long hours.
With the exception of Florida, in every State where 50 per cent or
more of the women had a weekly schedule of 54 hours and over,
the median wage was found to be under $12.
Conditions of work places as revealed by these reports also pre­
sented contrasts. In many establishments the surroundings in the
workrooms were found to be such that they constituted a menace
to the health and well-being of the workers; on the other hand, in
every State there were plants where the conditions of work were re­
ported as good or excellent, and in many instances the employers had
gone even farther than the requirements of the law of the State or of
the standards set up by the Women’s Bureau for the guidance of
those interested in the conditions surrounding women workers in
Besides the 20 State surveys already described are a number of
miscellaneous reports issued by the bureau bearing to a great ex­
tent on the subjects of hours, wages, and working conditions for
women. Several of these discuss the employment of women in single
industries or occupations, such as candy manufacturing, meat pack­
ing, cigar making, canneries, 5-and-10-cent stores, laundries, and
domestic service, and as street-car conductors and ticket agents.
Two deal with the employment of women in cities where there is
8 The median is the figure at which half the earnings reported are above and half below.



but one important industry—Flint and Niagara Falls. Two study
the problems of negro women and one the effects of legislation
limiting the hours of work for women. One lists the standard
and scheduled hours of work as reported for women workers in­
cluded in the various state-wide surveys, and another combines and
analyzes the bureau’s wage surveys in 13 States.
A number of bulletins issued by the bureau touch more or less upon
these basic questions but are not included in the several reports
discussed here because they deal more specifically and extensively
with other subjects. For example, one bulletin on the problems
of foreign-born women gives some data on their hours and earnings.
Several that are compilations of State laws affecting working women
contain summaries of hour laws. A number of others include ref­
erences to, and some information on, hours, wages, and working


r|Piii' imiiii





Health and safety for women mean health and safety for the race.
Determining what work conditions are necessary for insuring these
for the women gainfully employed in the United States, estimated
to-day at about 10,000,000, is one of the most significant functions of
the Women’s Bureau.
Matters of health and safety as related to women workers have
called for constant attention and investigation on the part of the
bureau. Not only are these problems the subject of several special
bulletins, but discussion of such vital questions runs through prac­
tically all the bureau’s publications as the essential framework on
which other discussions are hinged. Studies of the physiological
basis for the shorter workday for women, industrial poisons, indus­
trial accidents, the employment of women in hazardous industries,
and the effect on women’s health of employment at night are some
of the most noteworthy contributions by the bureau along the line
of industrial hygiene and safety. With changes in industry and
the development of new processes other aspects of the health situa­
tion are constantly arising and confronting the bureau with the
need for more scientific research and analysis.
The bureau is engaged in an important study of human waste
in industry, to be wide in scope, of great significance, and in line
with its function of formulating policies and standards and con­
ducting investigations to safeguard the interests of women workers
and to make their services most effective for the national good. The
main purposes of the survey are (1) to study from the viewpoint
of women workers the effects of changed method® in industry, the




extent of unemployment or of personal hazard resulting from such
changes, the systems used by wise managements to guard against
such unemployment or hazard; and (2) to compile information of
value to other managements faced with similar problems and seek­
ing help in the solution of such problems.
In conjunction with Dr. Alice Hamilton and as part of its study
of human waste, the bureau has been investigating the situation of
women engaged in the spray painting of stoves, with special atten­
tion to the effects of this vitreous-enamel work on the health of the
women. Information has been obtained on occupations, days lost,
and separations for all workers over a 12-month period. Through
home visits an effort has been made to get in touch with all women
who are or have been vitreous-enamel workers and to ascertain
from them causes of absence and separation as well as any symptoms
manifested as a result of their occupation.
It is important for the bureau to make detailed and scientific
studies of drinking and toilet facilities, seating, ventilation, lighting,
heating, and service facilities, including wash rooms, cloak rooms,
lunch rooms, rest rooms, and first-aid equipment in places of em­
ployment; to analyze State laws relating to such problems; and to
present as guides to State departments, industrial and business
establishments, and all other groups seeking aid along these lines,
the most advanced and scientifically worked out standards possible.
That men as well as women should be assured the health and
safety that the bureau’s standards help to provide goes without
saying, but the vital importance of such measures for women workers
because of their closer relation to healthy childbearing and happy
home making is apparent.
Because of the existence in certain quarters of conditions harmful
to women, the bureau conducts investigations to learn the facts.
The findings of these investigations stand as gui deposts to direct
the many organizations throughout the country that are working for
the better protection of wage-earning women. They present stand­
ards also for the States in whose hands lies the enactment of labor
The establishment of definite health standards on a scientific basis
becomes of utmost significance when it is realized that all labor
legislation in the country is based on the right of the police power
of the State to protect the health of its citizens.
During the past half century, with the amazingly rapid growth
of a machine civilization, women have followed their work from the
home into the factory. They have found their place in industry
side by side with men. But as they have become industrial workers
women have not ceased to be homei makers, housekeepers, mothers.
With the blowing of the factory whistle at night the majority of
women go home to an evening of cooking, washing, or scrubbing,
to the varied duties of household and family care that beset the
average woman.
For a long time the full economic and social significance of this
change m woman’s position was not appreciated, and no steps were
taken to safeguard her. In recent years, however, the courts and
legislatures, realizing* the relation of the health of the woman worker
to the general welfare of the country and race, have recognized



that long hours, low wages, and unhealthful working conditions may
have a more serious effect on women than on men, and protecting
the health of women workers and of posterity has become the basis
for labor legislation in the United States.
To-day some labor legislation especially for women is found on
the statute books of practically every State in the Union, but the
number and content of the laws passed vary from a careful regulation
of hours and wages and a very definite control of working conditions
in States such as Oregon, California, Wisconsin, and Massachusetts,
to the simple requirement of seats in Georgia and Iowa. A com­
plete summary of the present status of such legislation is contained
in an important study by the Women’s Bureau, Chronological De­
velopment of Labor Legislation for Women in the United States.
Despite these laws, the great bulk of women wage earners work
overlong hours and receive inadequate pay. Perhaps no other factors
are so vital in insuring the health of the woman worker as hours
that allow her sufficient rest and leisure and a wage that makes pos­
sible a standard of living at least on a level of health and decency.
The importance of these two is stressed in every bureau study.
In the health program of the Women’s Bureau, accident preven­
tion also assumes an important place. The fact that very few acci­
dent reports show figures for men and women separately serves to
keep the public in ignorance of the considerable numbers of working
women who receive injuries in the course of their employment. A
study by the bureau of all available material in State reports for
1920 to 1927 discloses that only 21 States at any time in the eight
years published accident data for women separate from those for
men; that in no year did more than 14 States report such data;
and that in the entire period some of the 21 States made only 1
report, though others published figures for each of the eight years.
In one State, that requires the reporting of all injuries, more than
11,000 women were injured in 1927; in the same year another State,
that requires reports only of accidents causing a loss of time of
more than a week, had 7,400 women injured to that extent. Such
numbers are too large to be a matter of indifference. The bureau
is convinced that complete and comparable accident figures, classi­
fied by sex, age, industry and occupation, cause, nature and location
of injury, and extent of disability, would aid materially in the pre­
vention of accidents, and it recommends a standardized system of
reporting so that the various industries and States may compare
their experience and profit by such comparison.
An outstanding bulletin that makes clear the need of precautions
and standards in this field is an exhaustive study of industrial acci­
dents to women in New Jersey, Ohio, and Wisconsin in the 12
months from July 1, 1919, to June 30, 1920. Cause and nature of
accident, time loss and wrage loss, compensation and medical aid,
extent and effects of permanent injuries—these and many more sub­
jects were studied. Almost one-half of the permanently injured
women interviewed in their homes were responsible for the support
of others.
The theory is accepted to-day that hazard is so inherent a part
of industry that various occupations have each a predictable risk,
and the cost to the injured employee of the accidents that occur—



the wage loss, medical cost, and expense of restoration of earning
capacity—is as logically a direct expense of production as is spoiled
material or damaged equipment.
The acceptance of this responsibility by employers and the spread
of workmen’s compensation laws will make the thorough study of
industrial hazards and the scientific analysis of causes of accidents
result in a reduction of casualties valuable to the employer by the
measure of dollars and cents as it is valuable to the worker in terms
of the abolition of mental and physical suffering. Well-lighted
work places and corridors, guarded machinery, clean, dry floors,
and aisles that are kept clear make for accident reduction. These
conditions the bureau standards seek to encourage.
As a health issue, the Women’s Bureau is opposed to night work
for women. Doctors have shown conclusively that women can not
make the physiological readjustments that working by night and
sleeping by day require, and night work inevitably is accompanied
by loss of sleep and consequent harm to the nervous system, by the
loss of the tonic and stimulating effects of the sun’s rays, and by
dangerous fatigue. Moreover, many women on night jobs overtax
their strength by trying to look after home and family by day.
That the United States is behind other great industrial nations in
regard to night work for women is shown in a bureau bulletin on
the subject. At the present time, as a result of the Berne and Wash­
ington conventions, 35 countries have abolished night work for
women or taken steps, legislative or governmental, looking toward
its prohibition. Only 16 States in this country, on the other hand,
have any legislation prohibiting night work, and these laws are far
from complete.
The Women’s Bureau does not favor laws prohibiting women’s
employment in occupations that have not been proven conclusively
to be more harmful to women than to men. Except for the lead
industry, very little research has been made in this country on the
special harmful effects on women of the various industrial processes.
For this reason, the bureau feels that extensive investigations should
be made before women are prohibited from any industries or pro­
cesses. This fact is brought out in a bureau publication entitled
“ The Employment of Women in Hazardous Industries in the United
As early as 1897 lead was known to have poisonous effects upon
women. It has been shown not only to be detrimental to a larger
proportion of women than of men handling it in manufacturing
processes but to have a very serious effect on women’s generative
organs. Women suffering from lead poisoning are more likely to
have abortions or stillborn children, and of the children who are
born living more than the average are likely to die within the first
year of life. This is pointed out by Dr. Alice Hamilton in a study
made for the Women’s Bureau on women workers and industrial
poisons. Despite these facts, a bulletin summarizing State labor
laws shows that only three States in the Union have laws prohibiting
or regulating women’s employment in industries where they are in
danger of lead poisoning.
No figures exist with regard to the effects of poisons other than
lead, but it is known that both monoxide gas and benzol may pro



duce abortion, and that benzol, by causing anemia, renders a healthy
pregnancy almost impossible.
The inclusion of occupational diseases in workmen’s compensa­
tion laws, which thus far has made but little progress, is a highly
desirable recognition of hazards not so apparent as unguarded
machinery but quite as likely to do serious harm.
Several of the bureau studies specializing on the textile industry
are of interest in connection with an industrial health program
because they show that illness of the worker is responsible for a
larger proportion of time lost from the job than is any other one
The general statements of the health program of the Women’s
Bureau are set forth in various articles in three booklets of a more
popular nature: What Industry Means to Women Workers, Short
Talks About Working Women, and Kadio Talks on Women in
Industry. As a supplement to the various reports on health and
safety is a bulletin entitled “ Selected Keferences on the Health of
Women in Industry,” which serves as a bibliography in this field.

To advance women’s opportunities for profitable employment is a
part of the important task assigned to the Women’s Bureau. As
a consequence, considerable re­
search and investigation has been
undertaken with a view to uproot­
ing prejudices against women’s
progress in various fields, breaking
down barriers, and opening doors
of opportunity. It is the aim of
the bureau to give women the
chance for advancement and de­
velopment to which as individuals
they are entitled, and thus to make
their services most effective for
their own and the national good.
Not so many decades ago the
slogan “ Woman’s place is the
home ” was being sounded on all
sides, partly as an argument
against woman suffrage and partly
as a bulwark to stem the tide of
women flowing from the home to
the factory as a result of the indus­
trial revolution.
With the gradual transformation of women’s unpaid services into
paid employment sprang up certain false ideas as to what women
as wage earners could and should do.
The theories that women work only
for pin money, that all women are
transients and so do not need voca­
tional training, that women have no
dependents and therefore should not
expect equal pay for equal work with
men, that young girls living at
home may be paid a lower wage than
others, and that women can do well
only a few types of work—these are
some of the lingering fallacies that
bar the natural progress of women
Because they have been so largely
unorganized, as well as untrained
and unskilled in regard to machine
labor, women have been in a weaker
economic position than have men. In
countless instances they have been
unable to bargain concerning their
services and have been forced to accept the job available, irrespective
of undesirable conditions of employment.



In spite of their handicaps, however, women have succeeded amaz­
ingly in whatever lines of work they have undertaken. They have
not been restricted to the transplanted industries but have entered
any avenues of employment opening up. In fact, there has been
a steady infiltration of women into so many fields of work that now
it may be said that woman’s place is everywhere.
Women doctors and lawyers have become a common story, and
more arresting now are the women who are managers and superin­
tendents of factories, bankers and bank officials, chemists, clergy­
men, judges, inventors, engineers, and architects. There are women
chauffeurs, draymen, teamsters, garage laborers, switchmen and
flagmen on steam railroads, ticket agents, telegraph messengers and
operators, steam and street railway laborers. In fact, the 1920 census
revealed that of the 572 occupations listed, women were found in all
but 35. The new census may show that women have invaded even
these last few strongholds.
To the Women’s Bureau the census reports are like directories
showing important facts about women’s employment and pointing
the need of certain types of investigations. Two valuable publica­
tions of the bureau consist almost entirely of analyses of census data
about women wage earners. The one is a compilation of tables,
illustrated graphically by charts, comprising a veritable treasure
trove of facts concerning age, nativity, and marital status of women
as correlated with their occupations. The second, of which intensive
use has been made during the past few years, reflects the upward
trend of women’s occupational march in the decade from 1910 to
1920. Striking increases in the numbers of women in clerical occu­
pations and the professions, increases also in the groups in manu­
facturing, trade, and transportation, but decreases among the women
in agriculture and domestic service are reported for this period.
In 1920 there were over 2,000,000 women in domestic and personal
service, not far from 2,000,000 in manufacturing and mechanical
industries, about 1,500,000 in clerical occupations, over 1,000,000
each in the professions and in agricultural pursuits, and more than
650,000 and 200,000 in trade and transportation, respectively.
In preliminary reports of the 1930 census, the Director of the
Census estimates that the number of wage-earning women has in­
creased to about 10,000,000. In addition, there are recorded for
the first time some 23,000,000 housewives engaged in keeping their
own homes.
The popular belief that women workers rendered real service to
the Nation during the World War is upheld by facts and figures
contained in a bulletin published by the bureau in 1920—The New
Position of Women in American Industry—the purpose of which
was to determine not only what women in industry in the United
States did for the war but what the war did for women in industry.
The success attending the emergency employment of women in oc­
cupations that required a high degree of skill and for which the
women had been trained by their employers resulted in the retention
of some women in most of these crafts.
As an outgrowth of this study was another dealing specifically
with opportunities for industrial training for women and girls. As
a result of war experiences it appeared that a promising indus



trial future for women lay in machine shops manufacturing light
parts, wood-product factories with assembling and finishing proc­
esses, optical and instrument plants, and sheet-metal shops. Avail­
able training facilities for such jobs, for the most part, were found
closed to women. The report stresses the need and value of admit­
ting women to training classes for these more unusual processes in
which they have demonstrated their ability, as well as to courses in
such time-honored women’s work as millinery and dressmaking.
Among forces affecting employment opportunities of women in
the fields of industry and commerce, that of scientific research is
playing a conspicuous and helpful role. A bureau bulletin devoted to
analysis of this situation reveals many new channels of employment
opened up to women as the result of laboratory achievements that
are responsible for new inventions, new industries growing out of
the utilization of hitherto dormant resources, the development of
new raw materials, increase of transportation facilities, new com­
mercial methods, etc.
The effects of special labor legislation for women on their employ­
ment opportunities is another phase carefully investigated and
written up by the bureau. Though admitting some restrictions due
to laws that prohibit women from night work and certain other
occupations considered hazardous, the report shows clearly that, in
general, labor laws for women do not handicap them but aid in rais­
ing the standards for all workers, and that the real forces influenc­
ing women’s opportunity are far removed from legislative regula­
tion of their hours or working conditions.
In the interests of the clerical and professional groups of women
two surveys have been conducted of services rendered by, and
opportunities open to, women working for the largest single em­
ployer in the country—the Federal Government. The first of these,
made in 1919, may be cited as the lever that opened up all civil-serv­
ice jobs to women, who until then had been excluded from certain
examinations and thus from many desirable positions. In 1925, just
after the reclassification of civilian positions had gone into effect,
a second survey showed that though women appointed to positions
formerly held only by men were receiving the same salaries as were
men, there still existed in regard to appointments to higher posi­
tions considerable discrimination against women, the majority of
whom were massed in the lower-paid jobs.
Special groups of women, such as the negro, foreign-born, and
married women workers, whose handicaps in respect to employment
usually are heavier than those of the average woman, have received
separate treatment in reports.
Two bulletins on negro women show that, in general, they receive
unusually low wages, but that certain types of work in which they
are now found represent for these workers distinct, if somewhat slow,
industrial progress.
Immigrant women handicapped by inability to speak English and
lack of knowledge concerning American customs naturally are
limited in opportunity, being restricted mainly to the industrial field,
a special study of their problems reveals. Nevertheless, because of
determination to earn a livelihood and to raise their standards of
living, these foreign-born wage earners make reliable and efficient



workers and show, on the whole, earnings that compare favorably
with those of native white women in industry.
The problems of married women workers are accentuated by the
prejudice existing in so many quarters against their employment and
by the lack of understanding of their needs, according to the bureau’s
investigations. The facts show that the vast majority of these work­
ers become breadwinners because of economic necessity and not from
desire for careers; that about three-fourths of them are concentrated
in manufacturing and mechanical industries, agriculture, and domes­
tic service; and that the average married woman worker performs
her household tasks in addition to her remunerative job.
Another special group being studied is women physicians, who
have replied to a questionnaire covering their professional and per­
sonal responsibilities and the experiences that have assisted or
retarded their advancement.

The invention of machines, bringing about great developments in
industry, reorganizing production, and transferring much of women’s
participation in manufacture from home to factory, has so changed
the customs and standards of existence and so increased the cost of
living that it has revolutionized both the home life and the work
life of individuals and has
brought new problems in the
wake of the many benefits
Large numbers of women
have been caught, as it were, in
the suction of the high-powered
wheels of industry. To some
have come opportunities of de­
velopment, to others heavy eco­
nomic responsibilities. Because
of certain unsound economic
practices that have developed as
concomitants of the machine age, such as unregulated production,
hit-or-miss marketing, disproportionate expansion of overhead, the
curtailed employment of men with resultant reduction of their in­
comes, more and more have women been forced to become wage
earners, assuming financial responsibilities in the home in addition to
their tasks as home makers and mothers.
Authentic data indicate that large numbers of homes are entirely
dependent upon the earnings of women and large numbers of other
homes must rely upon women’s
earnings to supplement those of
the male breadwinner. Many
mothers must leave small children
at home alone or in the care of
older brothers and sisters because
they have no choice, even though
the children suffer, but to go out
to earn the family living.
Many single women, through no
choice of their own, must support
parents or young brothers or sis­
ters, or must share their earnings
with other relatives dependent
upon them. These women find it
necessary to make far greater sacrifices than should be demanded
of them. Society suffers in the long run. Practically all these
women—young or old—must contribute in labor in addition to the
money contributions to the home, and the double burden of home
making and breadwinning is 'a heavy tax upon their strength.



Social and economic conditions obligate the Women’s Bureau to
concern itself with the problems of wage-earning women arising
because of family responsibilities. The homes of the Nation are
the foundation of its social structure, and work conditions and
other problems affecting the economic status of wage-earning women
involve not only the well-being of individual women and their
children of to-day but the welfare of future generations.
Due to insufficient appropriation, the bureau has been unable to
undertake special field research of the subject of responsibilities
commensurate with either the number of women involved or the
interrelated complexities of the subject. However, the bureau has
constantly sought for information on the subject and as a conse­
quence has been able to make some definite contributions. In con­
nection with practically all its field studies it has made some original
research on the subject by means of personal interviews with women
workers in their homes. In most of the State studies, personal data
for large numbers of women have been obtained by the questionnaire
method, the women filling out cards left in their industrial plants
by bureau agents. Facts secured in this way show that of more than
105,000 women workers in 17 State investigations who reported on
marital status, nearly 25 per cent were married and about 16 per
cent were widowed, separated, or divorced, together comprising more
than 40 per cent likely to have the responsibilities of wives or mothers
or both.
In a survey of women workers in Kansas, one of several first-hand
investigations by the bureau of the share of wage-earning women
in family support, personal interviews were held with 5,620 employed
women. Almost three-fourths of these women stated that they
made some financial contribution to their families, over one-third
giving all their earnings.
A similar investigatory method was used in a comparative study
in Manchester, N. H., of the contributions to their families of 884
men and 583 women wage earners in shoe factories. The interviews
revealed that practically every married woman reporting on the
subject turned over all her wages to the family, as did practically
every married man, and that 60 per cent of the daughters living
at home, in contrast to 35 per cent of the sons, did the same. A
fact well established by this study is that sons do not forego mar­
riage and careers to anything like the extent that daughters remain
at home because of the needs of parents or younger brothers and
sisters. This bulletin contains a summary and analysis of all data
on the subject of women’s responsibilities collected by other agencies
and available at the time of the preparation of the report.
In a more recent publication by the Women’s Bureau, entitled
“ What the Wage-Earning Woman Contributes to Family Support,”
have been assembled and summarized in popular form and with
emphasis on the human aspects not only the material contained
in the Manchester bulletin but all subsequent data on the subject
collected by the bureau and some important figures on men’s earn­
ings and the cost of living.
Some of the facts of interest contained in this bulletin have been
drawn from a study representative of original research of another
type. The bureau sought and was extended the cooperation of the



United States Bureau of the Census in securing from the original
1920 census schedules information concerning the 38,377 adult women
wage earners in four selected cities. This made it possible for the
Women’s Bureau to compile and present more detailed information
and more extensive analysis than were published by the census in
regard to the age. marital status, and occupation of these women,
and the composition of their families, including ages of children.
Facts were made available, also, concerning the numbers of women
whose wage-earning activities were within the home and outside
of the home, and for one city, Passaic, a first-hand investigation
was carried on to secure information in regard to the mothers who
left young children at home while they themselves were at work.
Moreover, it was possible to show what proportions the women
workers constituted of the woman population in each of the four
cities and the ratio of employed married women to all married
women. This study points the need of more detailed data pertain­
ing to women workers in the published volumes of the Bureau of
the Census. An important example is the present custom of classi­
fying women by marital status in two groups only, (1) married
women, living with their husbands, and (2) all others, whether
single, widowed, divorced, separated, or deserted—thus making it
impossible to ascertain how many breadwinners there are of each of
these quite different classes.
Two other publications deserve particular mention in this connec­
tion. The one, Women Workers and Family Support, was prepared
by the students of the Bryn Mawr summer school for women in in­
dustry and contains an analysis of their own experiences as regards
home responsibilities. The second, a study of the applications of
married women over a period of three or four months in 1928 at two
Denver employment agencies—the Young Women’s Christian Asso­
ciation and a department store—is an illustration of a type of inves­
tigation that can be made with profit by similar agencies in other
communities, often with comparatively little change in the kind of
record ordinarily kept for handling their own business. That ninetenths of these married women were seeking work outside the home
because of economic necessity is one of the significant facts revealed.
A study of conditions among employees in meat-packing plants
includes the analysis of information on family responsibilities sup­
plied by about 900 women visited in their homes. The earnings of
several hundred men also were recorded as contributing to an under­
standing of the economic condition of families.
Of such vital importance is the question of women’s economic
responsibilities to the family that it forms an integral part of almost
all outstanding problems pertaining to wage-earning women, as the
warp or woof of a fabric. In studies by the bureau along special­
ized lines, such as women in cotton mills, laundries, canneries, do­
mestic employment, home work, or in studies of special groups of
women such as the negro and foreign-born wage earners, or in the
report on the breadwinning activities of women in coal-miners’ fam­
ilies, a constant feature of the discussion is the analysis of the home
responsibilities of the women workers.
Another phase of this subject that is constantly stressed through­
out most of the bureau bulletins is the double role enacted by so



many women who must serve as wage earners as well as home makers,
or, with the addition of motherhood, the triple burden that weighs
on many. All who read the bureau literature can not fail to be
impressed with the constantly recurring fact that it is the women
wage earners who perform the household duties, with the care of
the home and of the children and the ministrations to the sick, activi­
ties that perforce are engaged in before and after the hours devoted
to breadwinning enterprises. Another point definitely stressed by
the bureau is that since women find themselves in this difficult situa­
tion in the present industrial order, it is imperative to safeguard
their interests, and the interests of the Nation, by certain measures
in the form of a fair wage, a short workday, and healthful conditions
of work.

[Any of these bulletins still available will be sent free of charge upon request]
*No. 1. Proposed Employment: of Women During the War in the Industries
of Niagara Falls, N. Y. 16 pp. 1918.
No. 2. Labor Laws for Women in Industry in Indiana. 29 pp. 1919.
No. 3. Standards for the Employment of Women in Industry. S pp. Fourth
ed„ 1928.
No. 4. Wages of Candy Makers in Philadelphia in 1919. 46 pp. 1919.
*No. 5. The Eight-Hour Day in Federal and State Legislation. 19 pp. 1919.
No. 6. The Employment of Women in Hazardous Industries in ttie United
States. 8 pp. 1921.
No. 7. Night-Work Laws in the United States. (1919.) 4 pp. 1920.
*No. 8. Women in the Government Service. 37 pp. 1920.
*No. 9. Home Work in Bridgeport, Conn. 35 pp. 1920.
*No. 10. Hours and Conditions of Work for Women in Industry in Virginia.
32 pp. 1920.
No. 11. Women Street Oar Conductors and Ticket Agents. 90 pp, 1921.
♦No. 12. The New Position of Women in American Industry. 158 pp. 1920.
No. 13. Industrial Opportunities and Training for Women and Girls. 48 pp.
♦No. 14. A Physiological Basis for the Shorter Working Day for Women. 20 pp.
No. 15. Some Effects of Legislation Limiting Hours of Work for Women.
26 pp. 1921.
No. 16. (See Bulletin 63.)
No. 17. Women’s Wages in Kansas. 104 pp. 1921.
No. 18. Health Problems of Women in Industry. 8 pp. Kevised, 1931.
No. 19. Iowa Women in Industry. 73 pp. 1922.
♦No. 20. Negro Women in Industry. 65 pp. 1922.
No. 21. Women in Rhode Island Industries. 73 pp. 1922.
♦No. 22. Women in Georgia Industries. 89 pp. 1922.
No. 23. The Family Status of Breadwinning Women. 43 pp. 1922.
No. 24. Women in Maryland Industries. 96 pp. 1922.
No. 25. Women in the Candy Industry in Chicago and St. Louis. 72 pp. 1923.
No. 26. Women in Arkansas Industries. 86 pp. 1923.
No. 27. The Occupational Progress of Women. 37 pp. 1922.
No. 28. Women’s Contributions in the Field of Invention. 51 pp. 1923.
No. 29. Women in Kentucky Industries. 114 pp. 1923.
No. 30. The Share of Wage-Earning Women in Family Support. 170 pp.
No. 31. What Industry Means to Women Workers. 10 pp. 1923.
No. 32. Women in South Carolina Industries. 128 pp. 1923.
No. 33. Proceedings of the Women’s Industrial Conference. 190 pp. 1923.
No. 34. Women in Alabama Industries. 86 pp. 1924.
No. 35. Women in Missouri Industries. 127 pp. 1924.
No. 36. Radio Talks on Women in Industry. 34 pp. 1924.
No. 37. Women in New Jersey Industries. 99 pp. 1924.
No. 38. Married Women in Industry. 8 pp. 1924.
No. 39. Domestic Workers and Their Employment Relations. 87 pp. 1924.
No. 40. (See Bulletin 63.)
No. 41. Family Status of Breadwinning Women in Four Selected Cities. 145
pp. 1925.
No. 42. List of References on Minimum Wage for WJStnen in the United States
and Canada. 42 pp. 1925.
No. 43. Standard and Scheduled Hours of Work for Women in Industry. 68
pp. 1925.
No. 44. Women in Ohio Industries. 137 pp. 1925.
♦ Supply exhausted.




No. 45. Home Environment and Employment Opportunities of Women in
Coal-Mine Workers’ Families. 61 pp. 1925.
No. 46. Facts about Working Women—A Graphic Presentation Based on Cen­
sus Statistics. 64 pp. 1925.
No. 47. Women in the Fruit-Growing and Canning Industries in the State of
Washington. 223 pp. 1926.
*No. 48. Women in Oklahoma Industries. 118 pp. 1926.
No. 49. Women Workers and Family Support. 10 pp. 1925.
No. 50. Effects of Applied Research Upon the Employment Opportunities of
American Women. 54 pp. 1926.
No. 51. Women in Illinois Industries. 108 pp. 1926.
No. 52. Lost Time and Labor Turnover in Cotton Mills. 203 pp. 1926.
No. 53. The Status of Women in the Government Service in 1925. 103 pp.
No. 54. Changing Jobs. 12 pp. 1926.
No. 55. Women in Mississippi Industries. 89 pp. 1926.
No. 56. Women in Tennessee Industries. 120 pp. 1927.
No. 57. Women Workers and Industrial Poisons. 5 pp. 1926.
No. 58. Women in Delaware Industries. 156 pp. 1927.
No, 59. Short Talks About Working Women. 24 pp. 1927.
No. 60. Industrial Accidents to Women in New Jersey, Ohio, and Wisconsin.
316 pp. 1927.
No. 61. The Development of Minimum-Wage Laws in the United States, 1912
to 1927. 635 pp. 1928.
No. 62. Women’s Employment in Vegetable Canneries in Delaware. 47 pp.
No. 63. State Laws Affecting Working Women. 51 pp. 1927. (Revision of
Bulletins 16 and 40.)
No. 64. The Employment of Women at Night. 86 pp. 1928.
*No. 65. The Effects of Labor Legislation on the Employment Opportunities
of Women. 498 pp. 1928.
No. 66. History of Labor Legislation for Women in Three States; Chronologi­
cal Development of Labor Legislation for Women in the United
States. 288 pp. 1929.
No. 67. Women Workers in Flint, Mich. 80 pp. 1929.
No. 68. Summary: The Effects of Labor Legislation on the Employment Op­
portunities of Women. (Reprint of Chapter 2 of Bulletin 65.)
22 pp. 1928.
No. 69. Causes of Absence for Men and for Women in Four Cotton Mills. 24
pp. 1929.
NO. 70. Negro Women in Industry in 15 States. 74 pp. 1929.
No. 71. Selected References on the Health of Women in Industry. 8 pp. 1929.
No. 72. Conditions of Work in Spin Rooms. 41 pp. 1929.
No. 73. Variations in Employment Trends of Women and Men.143 pp. 1930.
No. 74. The Immigrant Woman and Her Job. 179 pp. 1930.
No. 75. What the Wage-Earning Woman Contributes to Family Support. 20
pp. 1929.
No. 76. Women in 5-and-10-Cent Stores and Limited-Price Chain Department
Stores. 58 pp. 1930.
No. 77. A Study of Two Groups of Denver Married Women Applying for Jobs.
11 pp. 1929.
No. 78. A Survey of Laundries and Their Women Workers in 23 Cities. 166
pp. 1930.
No. 79. Industrial Home Work. 20 pp. 1930.
No. 80. Women in Florida Industries. 115 pp. 1930.
No., 81. Industrial Accidents to Men and Women. 48 pp. 1930.
No. 82. The Employment of Women in the Pineapple Canneries of Hawaii.
„30 pp. 1930.
No. S3. Fluctuation in Employment in the Radio Industry. 66 pp. 1931.
No.'84. Fact Finding With the Women’s Bureau. 37 pp. 1931.
No. 85. Wages of Women in 13 States. (In press.)
Annual reports of the director, 1919*, 1920*, 1921*, 1922, 1923, 1924*.
1925, 1926, 1927*. 1928*. 1929, 1930.
Supply exhausted.